When you’re running around trying to generate sales and build your business, you may not be thinking about some basics that you may not think are important, but may actually be hurting your brand. Go through this list and if you’re doing any of these – quickly and quietly make the change, you will notice a difference.

  1. Using a generic email. This might have been OK 20 years ago. It’s not really OK now. When people hear or see your name or company, the first place they go is to the web to see who you are and what your company does. If you still have a yahoo, aol or hotmail email address, this doesn’t really help sell your brand. Even solo entrepreneurs should have a branded email address. It takes a couple of minutes to go over to GoDaddy.com and grab a custom URL. While you’re at it, grab your name as a URL as well. If you sell or leave your company, at least you’ll have a branded email for yourself.
  2. Not recording a personal voice mail. If your cell phone or company phone goes to the default voice mail, ?take the 3 minutes to actually record a nice voice mail for the people who will get it. This says a lot about who you are as a business person. If you don’t take 3 minutes to record a voice mail, will you take 3 minutes to call me as your customer? If you actually have your voice mail message recorded by someone else or a secretary (I hear these a lot), this is becoming highly inappropriate and says to the caller that you don’t know how to use a phone or voice mail. It DOESN’T say that you are too busy. And if you are too busy to record your own message, then you don’t care about the caller.
  3. Ignoring LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. If you look at it from the context of celebrities tweeting and sharing what they had for breakfast, then you are missing the big picture. Social media been around for over 5 years now. People choose to do business with people they know and like. And the way we find this out today is by looking for them on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. If you don’t have a presence there, then it’s like you don’t have a phone or business card. It says something about you and the business that you run — and what it says has nothing to do with wasting time and has everything to do with whether you are up to speed with how your customers communicate. Use LinkedIn, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter as a company and employee directory or an address book at the very least. Create a complete profile that includes a picture. Participate at least a couple times a week.
  4. Your company voice doesn’t match your customer’s voice. There is no such thing as a controlled marketing message. You can’t afford (literally and figuratively) to have marketing materials and communication not sound like you or your employees. The tone, the words, the messages and the attitude should match. If you’re a serious company, then everything should be serious. If you’re a casual company, then everything should be casual. It’s even better if your company’s voice matches your customer’s voice. So if you’re company is serious and your customers are casual — find a tone that is a little of both.
  5. Talking like a company and not a person. There is a universal law out there that pulls at opposites. For example, when technology creates the opportunity for less face-to-face interaction, people want more human-friendly interaction. With automated phone messages, email, social media, etc. your company absolutely has to sound more like a human than some faceless organization. Best Buy has done a great job with this and their blue team that answers questions. Sears has followed suit as have many, many consumer big-box stores. Your small business isn’t really looking big by acting like a faceless corporation — it’s looking fake. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and let your human side shine through. Customers love this and appreciate it.
  6. Not having a signature in your emails. For heaven’s sake, put your contact information in your email. It’s ridiculously unprofessional. Most people get emails on their cell phones and will want to call you back – make it easy for them to do this. Also include a cell phone number because you are never at your desk. Customers can’t call and ask questions if you’re not at your desk or answering the phone.
  7. No blog – no connection to a person to contact. A recent study showed that over 60% of all businesses now have a blog. AND they are seeing the benefit from a blog. Don’t over think this. Start a blog. A CEO starting a blog and blogging about challenges solved, obstacles overcome and what they are thinking and committed to for their company is like a customer catnip. People literally can’t resist reading it, getting to know you and your company. This allows them connect, comment and start a conversation and relationship.

Maybe you think these items are trivial, but like tiny home repairs that quickly make your house look shabby when ignored, these seemingly unimportant details are making you look bad and rather foolish in the eye of your customers.

Don’t make the mistake of looking at your business differently if you’re a manufacturer or industrial B2B company. The line between consumer and industrial is blurring every day.

Pay attention to your own opinions about companies as you go about your business and notice what?judgement you make along the way. Your customers are doing the same with you.